Worcester, Mass.
May 5, 1996

Blackstone River Bikeway taking shape

By Lynne Tolman

    The 26-mile Blackstone River Bikeway continues to take shape, at least on paper. Detailed maps of the proposed route, from Worcester to Blackstone, are on display at River Bend Farm, Oak Street, Uxbridge.

    In many places the maps show two or three options. For example, the bikeway could be on Route 122, or it could be a separate, paved path alongside the Blackstone Canal, or a path next to the Providence & Worcester Railroad tracks. Area residents have insisted that the bikeway stay off the canal towpath in Northbridge and Uxbridge.

    Cullinan Engineering Co. of Auburn will submit final route recommendations to the Massachusetts Highway Department and Department of Environmental Management by September. A public hearing is to be held in August, before funding is sought for the final design, said project manager Jane Weidman (401-884-3797).

    The first part of the bikeway to be built, a stretch less than a mile long, will be done as part of the new Massachusetts Turnpike interchange project at Routes 146 and 20 in Millbury. It will be a paved path, at least 10 feet wide, separate from the highways and their ramps. Construction could start about a year from now, according to Lloyd Bristol, project engineer at Cullinan.

    The Worcester portion of the bikeway, from Brosnihan Square south, will be a mix of on-road space and separate bike paths. On a new collector road paralleling the rebuilt Route 146, cyclists will share 14-foot lanes with cars. At McKeon Road, cyclists could go on a pedestrian overpass to Millbury Street, or a bike lane -- four feet wide, bounded by white stripes and marked for bicycles only -- on Ballard Street.

    At Millbury and Ballard streets, a separate bike path will parallel the river. A bike ramp will go onto Route 20, which will have bike lanes to a Mass Pike Park and Ride lot across from the sewage treatment plant. The separate bike path will continue south to Route 122A (North Main Street) in Millbury.

    Cyclists can view the Blackstone Valley over the handlebars on a bike ride from Worcester to the Riverside Music Festival in Woonsocket, R.I., on National Trails Day, June 1. Meet at 10 a.m. at Quinsigamond State Park, or join up later at Stanley Woolen Mill, Route 16, Uxbridge. Round trip from Worcester is 56 miles. A Providence-to-Woonsocket ride will start at 10 a.m. at India Point Park. For information, call Lisa Lawless at the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (401-277-2776).
    The MetroWest Bike Map, published this year, is an excellent guide to rideable roads in 12 towns, from Marlboro to Weston. Roads are shown in different colors for "best routes for bicycling," "OK for experienced bicyclists" or "not recommended for bicycling." The map also shows train stations and rail lines, bike shops, libraries, police stations and points of interest. On the back, it has turn-by-turn directions for three 30-mile loop rides, safety tips, an MBTA map, a summary of the state law on bicycling and a list of other resources.
    To get a copy, send a check for $3, payable to MetroWest Growth Management Committee, 13 East Central St., Room 206, Natick, Mass. 01760.
    TIP OF THE HELMET _ To the University of New Hampshire, for clinching first place in Division I at the Eastern Collegiate Cycling Championships last weekend and winning a berth at the nationals June 1-2 in California. The UNH women outscored all the other women's teams in total points for the season, with Celeste Young of Lenox ranking second only to Army dynamo Dena Wright for individual points at the Easterns.

    Kudos also to Chris McDonald of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and Greg Swinand of Boston College for leading the men in individual points. Both ride for Worcester-based teams in USCF races, McDonald for Hot Tubes and Swinand for O'Neil's.

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